Closing the religion’s headquarters and other 395 local chapters, are the only decision of Russia’s Supreme Court versus Jehova’s Witnesses amid the alleged extremist activity within the group.
According to the Russian highest they banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses from operating in the country, accepting a request from the justice ministry that the religious organisation be considered an extremist group.
The court also ordered the closure of the group’s Russia headquarters and its 395 local chapters, as well as the seizure of its property.
The high court decision was carried over last Thursday, it can be remembered that the country’s justice ministry is the one moving and requesting the banning of Jehovah’s Witnesses and seizing their property after they called on it to dissolve the Christian group as an “extremist organization.”
Why Russia banned Jehova’s Witnesses operations?
Supreme Court judge Yury Ivanenko said Russia had decided to close down “the administrative center of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the local organizations in its fold and turn their property over to Russia.”
The decision comes after the ministry said it had found signs of “extremist activity” within the religious movement and requested that it be banned.
“They represent a threat to the rights of the people, to public order and public safety,” Russian news agencies quoted justice ministry representative Svetlana Borisova as saying.
As of now, the religious movement, which has 395 centers across the Vladimir Putin-led nation, has vowed to appeal the decision.
The court verdict was brought shocked to Yaroslav Sivulsky, who represents the group’s administrative center, he addressed the media.
“I didn’t expect that this could be possible in modern Russia, where the constitution guarantees freedom of religious practice,” he added.
Meanwhile, the group’s representative also said the it would take its case to the European Court of Human Rights if its appeal was rejected in Russia.
Sivulsky alao expressed his fears over the possibility that members of the group could face prosecution if they continued to gather and study the Bible.
“We fear that people will end up in jail,” he said.
According to the group, there are about 175,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in the said country.
Last March, the powerful Russian Orthodox Church has lashed the group, with one church official labeled it as a “destructive sect”.
As of posting, there are more than eight million Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, with some countries classifying the group as a sect.
The group’s followers are known worldwide for preaching on doorsteps and visiting far flung places, where they offer religious literature and attempt to convert people in practicing religious rights.
This is not the first time the Russian government and the Christian group has collided. In fact, in 2004 Russia dissolved the Moscow branch of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
However, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2010 that the move had violated the right to “freedom of religion and association.”